Islam needs an Enlightenment – not a Reformation

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the latest public figure to call for an Islamic Reformation. The faith of her fathers, she believes, needs to be purged of its violent and intolerant tendencies, made compatible with contemporary values. Many others, Muslims and non-Muslims, have made similar arguments; but the brave and brilliant Somali refugee has, so to speak, earned a special right to be heard.

What, though, do we mean by “Reformation”? Most people mean that they want a more modern Islam, one which accepts the separation of church and state, the equality of women, the supremacy of Parliament and so on. This, though, is very far from what the Christian Reformation was about. Its architects were not seeking a cuddlier, more ecumenical version of their faith. On the contrary, just like today’s Salafists, they wanted to purge and purify, to go back to an older and more demanding template, one more closely tied to the Scriptures.

  • ontario john

    Although I don’t believe islam can be reformed, I think her new book, “Heretic” should be required reading by everyone in the West. i just finished it, and found it very interesting.

    • I will post a NYT review shortly.

      • dance…dancetotheradio

        Blazing Cat Fur: Reading the NYT so you don’t have to!

  • Censored_often

    Reformation or Enlightenment do not mix with Islam, the “religion” of darkness. I admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali but don’t agree Islam can change any time soon. If it does, it is a good few centuries off at minimum. Call me a realist.

    • We may be seeing it in action now, all the more reason to stay out of Islam’s civil war.

      We really should just quarantine all Muslim states.

  • winniec

    Islam is obscurantist, so an ‘enlightenment’ would kill it. Wahhabism IS the Islamic ‘reformation’, a return to the roots of foundational Islam and a stripping of later developments.
    Casting light on the foundational period of Islam reveals an unbridgeable gap between an undocumented founder and a richly detailed literature about him that appears 200 years after. By studying this gap, Muslims come to the realization that Mohammed’s legends were fabricated in this bloody period to support rival dynasties.
    The only reformation that worked was led by Ataturk, but it is now unraveling after less than a hundred years, because it was based on a fascist army that controlled the country. With democratization, the Islamists have taken over control of the army in Turkey.
    ‘Kemalism’ is a much of a ‘reform’ that Islam will allow.

  • winniec

    A religious reformation of Islam was attempted by the founders of Ahmadiyya through their two supposedly ‘reincarnated’ leaders who brought forth new revelations that abrogated violent jihad. Most Muslims don’t see how Hinduism can be combined with Islam.

  • Observer
  • I think it would be a good idea for some experts, be they Moslems or not, to get together and design a modified version of Islam (editing or changing Koran, Hadiths, Sharia) ready for use by Moslems desirous of reform. It will certainly not be accepted by orthodox Moslems, but it may make some headway in the population at large over time (just as the Jewish reform movement, founded in the 19th cent. made some headway, or the protestant movement as of the 16th). Ideally. Islam should immediately be wiped out of human use. But in the interim, a watered-down, modernised version of Islam would be constructive. The point here made is that many people need some sort of spiritual framework to cling to, and the Moslems are more likely to respond positively to a derivative of Islam than to some altogether other religion or to atheism.

    • Achmed

      You can not remove the basic tenet of Islam that you must either convert to Islam, be subservient to all Muslims and pay the Jizzya, or die and that anybody who leaves the faith must die! Otherwise it is no longer Islam!

      • Yes, according to orthodox Islam all these features are essential. But the point made here is that it is possible to remodel Islam, a new Islam without the horrible stuff of the old, so as to give Moslems a substitute spiritual framework that converges with their cultural context and yet teaches them respect for others and for themselves, etc.

        • Achmed

          Then it won’t be Islam.

          What you want is the kaffir dream to destroy Islam, the word of Allah and his prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him).

          Muslims have respect for all true Muslims but must not for the unbelievers!

          • But it will be Islam, in that it will include all the ‘best’ and ‘least harmful’ elements of Islam. It will just not be orthodox Islam, since it will lack the evil stuff. If competent people work to develop this, it can eventually be sold to Moslems who are not too inclined to Islam as it currently is. These people cannot exist in a spiritual vacuum – they need a substitute to grab hold of. Without such a substitute they will always cling to the present version of Islam.

          • Ottawa Eyes

            If you cut out the “evil stuff” there will be nothing left!

          • Ha, you may be right!

          • dance…dancetotheradio

            I disagree.
            Contrast the Christian view that God helps those who help themselves with their view that even simple chemical reactions like the ionization of salt in water are dependent upon the active will of God.
            These two ways of looking at the world are irreconcilable.

          • This has to do with philosophy, notably the Occasionalism Al-Ghazali (1059-1111), who denied natural causation in favor of universal Divine volition.

   Conceiving Divine volition

          • dance…dancetotheradio

            I can’t drill down that deep.
            It’ll do my head in.

          • No problem.

          • dance…dancetotheradio

            I want to have this conversation.
            Just negotiating the level.

          • dance…dancetotheradio

            I’m going to dive into this again.

          • “God helps those who help themselves” means that man is given some leeway and obligation of freewill. Whereas Islam regards man as ultimately devoid of freewill, everything being “written” in advance (maktub).

          • MRHapla

            Islam should start erasing now, and not stop until they his tabula rasa.

          • MRHapla

            yeah, Sunnis respect the shht out of Shhitties, as much as Shitties just love them some Sunnis.

            Islam is a mental psychopathy, you’re all batshht crazy.

    • MRHapla

      Watered down? Shoot, I’m rootin’ for the coming IntraIslam War , Sunni v. Shiitie v. Daesh/IS to wash Islam off the planet

  • pdxnag

    Cull out the 60 percent that is dedicated to hostility for non-Muslims and insufficiently Muslim Muslims.

    It is immutable so the only choice for a “good” person is apostasy.

    • MRHapla

      Yeah, but even those are still carriers.

  • MRHapla

    Maybe Islam will just kill itself off. The coming Sunni vs. Shiite vs. Daesh/IS IntraIslam War looks promising.

    Dibs on the oil,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,